Governance in Barbados

Submitted by Paula Sealy

We last had as many as 4000 students write the 11+ in 2003. Therefore it is possible that there are actually fewer students in the education system today than 10 or 15 years ago. However while some primary and secondary schools are overcrowded others remain below capacity.

The 2010 National Advisory Committee on Education (NACE) report addresses the subject of the size and layout of public schools. The NACE remains part and parcel of the Education Act, under section 6, and the functions of the Advisory Board are outlined in section 14 of the Education Regulations.

Under the current administration, instead of convening the Advisory Board or Committee, we have been presented with an Education Reform Unit because the prevailing conditions must be thoroughly investigated. This may suggest some measure of inconsistency in matters of governance.

As was recommended by the Waterman Commission in 2012 – and highlighted as one of the three main recommendations by PM Stuart in August of that year – there is a need for the managerial reorganisation of the education ministry. Another of Waterman’s recommendation, which Stuart highlighted was to amend the Education Regulations (1982) and Act (1983).

Instead of investing in further evaluation and the implementation of these recommendations, the last administration dragged its feet despite its admirable investment in the NACE, Waterman Commission etc.

Regarding the inconsistencies of the present administration in matters of governance, unlike the affairs of education, where the transition to a republic is concerned we are to be content with embracing the 1979 Cox report and the 1998 Forde report. The reports of the NACE and Waterman Commission, though of a much more recent vintage, are trumped by the mandate of the Reform Unit to investigate the status quo.

We are clearly under a culture of government which gravitates towards dysfunction, duplication and wastage regardless of which political party forms the government of Barbados.

42 thoughts on “Governance in Barbados

  1. Your first paragraph is most annoying if true.
    Is the decreasing number of primary school pupils due to a diminished birth rate?

  2. @ Gp at 2 :43 PM

    It is annoying but true . We are an aging population. Pensioners are living longer and the generation that we begat are opting for smaller families or none at all. Primary schools have been amalgamating for at least two decades.

  3. @ David BU

    Is this post really about Governance? The latter term seems to have several definitions as we move from blog to blog and from commenters to commenters and self appointed thought leaders.

  4. VC
    So then it should be easier to manage the school SYSTEM , and orchestrate certain desired outcomes.
    We may have to bus Some to school, as well as set up special schools, starting at some age level to purpose or propel pupils in desired out comes, according to abilities and aptitudes.

  5. @ David BU at 3:15 PM

    I think the students of private primary still l present for 11+ exams. That total is diminishing every year as well. Unless they are opting for secondary private schools. These are very expensive and are out of reach of the middle middle classes.

  6. @ GP at 3:14 PM
    It should be easy to manage. And at the present moment is well managed. The problem comes with the disagreement as to what it should deliver. There is a small but vociferous group that wants the system to deliver a citizens of equal abilities. So the problem is agreement on conception.
    So the strategy you outlined is more or less in place even as in your school days.

  7. @ all
    The writer states:
    “We are clearly under a culture of government which gravitates towards dysfunction, duplication and wastage regardless of which political party forms the government of Barbados.”

    Slowly but surely the sad truth is being revealed.
    Enough said !

  8. VC
    There is a small but vociferous group that wants the system to deliver a citizens of equal abilities.

    the strategy in place as in MY school days WORKS WELL FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME:

  9. “Despite a relatively low poverty rate of 15% (UNDP, 2016) Barbados has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the Caribbean. We are faced with a rapidly shrinking middle class coupled with fewer opportunities for social mobility and disproportionate growth among the top income earners.

    According to Development Economist, Collin Constantine, the average income of Barbados’ top ten per cent of income earners is about 3.7 times larger than the average income of the entire population (2017)— to provide some global perspective, Barbados has a higher degree of inequality (Gini Coefficient of 0.47) than countries such as Rwanda, Honduras, South Sudan and Nicaragua (UNDP, 2016).”

  10. @ DM at 4:34 PM
    Please note that the poverty rate is 15%. This is good IMHO. for 2916. I am sure it was higher prior to that year The top10% earns less than four times the average income earned in the entire population. Compared with other middle income countries, this is good. We are not in the same league as the countries listed/ cited. We have to keep things in perspective. We also have a high level of public goods and services that are not measured in earnings. We need to be careful about the inference we make from data.

  11. Corrections
    2016 not 2916.
    top 10%
    A level of inequality necessary for incentivisation of management and return to investment for shareholders.This is nowhere near the multiple in MDCs.

  12. “Despite a relatively low poverty rate of 15% (UNDP, 2016) Barbados has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the Caribbean.”

    “Barbados has a higher degree of inequality (Gini Coefficient of 0.47) than countries such as Rwanda, Honduras, South Sudan and Nicaragua (UNDP, 2016).”

    Barbados is a playground for the very rich and a tax haven to park their monies

    it also has a layer of very poor strugglers and jams just about managing

    opportunities for last 50 years made a middle class and a wealthy class

    standards for the lowest level of poorest / in poverty need to be raised

  13. I don’t appreciate the criticism. Barbados is in the top league of the most expensive countries in the world! If I look at it correctly, Barbados is the only black country in the top league!

  14. Dear BU Family, social commentator Kammie Holder is currently pursuing post grad work and is asking for your assistance to complete a bit of research. A brief questionnaire can be accessed at the following link.

    Here is the LINK.

  15. The President of Rwanda has just twitted his displeasure at Arsenal having lost the opening game of the Premiership football season in England. Check out the link below; and watch the video as it is an eye opener. Not so long ago this country was involved in a very nasty civil war. The video shows a country that appears to be leaps and bounds ahead of Barbados. How is this possible?

    • @TLSN

      You have to assess their history and what led to the triggers that has moved the country to current state.

  16. @ David,

    Under this current leadership and under the previous one we do not and did not have have a prayer. We continue to run backwards like our athletes (not the ones who qualified for the recent Olympics). What triggers are required to move Barbados forward? A move to becoming a republic? A request for the removal of Mia and her BLP and our entire political system? Insurrection?

    I am happy that a few men and women have raised their head above the parapet to register their ambition to shake up the status quo in sleepy Barbados. Good luck to them.

  17. I do not think most people want the system to deliver equally educated young people in academics. I think they want the talents of all students to be recognised and provision made for their development.

    We recognise that not all children will be academically inclined.

    And we should be thanking God for that!

    What we need is to prepare square pegs for square holes and be happy about so doing.

    I think more and more of us are getting happy. We need the Government to recognise and increase our joy.

  18. It is being reported that the death toll may be high after Haiti was hit by another massive earthquake. Meanwhile Japan has been hit with severe flooding. Both countries have become acclimatised to these natural disasters. We in Barbados have never really experienced any such sustained natural disasters in over 55 years. How did we benefit from this period of grace? We ran backwards like our athletes and our sportsman. God’s blessings have been wasted on our nation. We have been unable to capitalise on our good fortunes.

  19. @ TLSN August 14, 2021 12:20 PM

    Compare the vaccination rate in Barbados and Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory. There the population is completely vaccinated thanks to the help of their mother country. And in our country? Our population engages in a laughable voodoo cult of mask-wearing and hand-washing because we don’t have enough vaccine doses.

    So what has the Declaration of Independence brought us? Barbados, as a small island in the Atlantic, is as capable of survival as a frog in the desert. Namely, not at all.

  20. @David, thank you. So far, it would appear in a sample of just over 100 persons, we are seeing that 69% of the respondents are female and women save more than men despite men still working for more than women. Another interesting observation is that women are more aware of the importance of multi-generational wealth.

    I am sampling a wider cross-section from the credit union movement over the next two weeks and I will provide some snippets

  21. @David. Rwanda is still a very poor country by GDP standard. Barbados is like Switzerland compare to Rwanda. However, Kagame has done a fine job with the little resource he has, compare to his resource rich neighbors. Kigali, the capital, is the cleanest city in Africa. If Africa had serious leaders of Kagame ilk, the continent would have been a much prosperous place. Kagame is no democrat, democracy isn’t for every county.

  22. BUT wants clarity on education chief

    President of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Pedro Shepherd, is calling for clarity from Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw on how the new Chief Education Officer has been selected.
    The Sunday Sun has received reports, which are still to be officially confirmed by the ministry, that deputy principal of Erdiston Teachers’ Training College, Dr Ramona Bradshaw, will be taking up the post in which Joy Adamson has been acting for more than two years.
    Neither the minister nor Adamson could be reached for comment, and it is not yet clear if the tenure of the new Chief Education Officer will be on a contract basis.
    However, Shepherd said it was important that the ministry cleared the air on how the selection process was undertaken as it raised several questions. He added that people within the teaching service saw the post as the pinnacle so the criteria must be transparent.
    “I think clarity is urgently needed because the teachers of Barbados deserve to know what the rules are and the same goes for those who applied for the position. I also believe that the person who was holding the office for about two years and nine months also deserves to know.”
    Regrading process
    The BUT president said he had serious concerns about the regrading process within the teaching service, arguing that experience now seemed to be undervalued. He said that this was likely to be a disincentive for people to remain in the teaching service for a long time.
    “People in the teaching service would have been seeing this position as an elevation and this is something that we have to look at because we have a system now where people are going into positions based on interviews and academic qualifications.
    “These persons often do not get the kind of respect that their office carries and this is something that we have to look at,” said Shepherd, adding this was posing serious
    challenges throughout the Public Service.
    “We have to really look seriously at whether we will continue with the interview process and overlook people who are senior because I don’t think that there is anything that could beat experience, not even degrees and master’s degrees.
    “The challenge that we have in education is that the recent regrading now states that you must have a master’s degree to be a principal and it does not matter which discipline.
    “So a person with a master’s degree in civil engineering and little teaching experience qualifies to be a principal ahead of a teacher with a first degree in education and many years of experience.” (CLM)

    Source: Nation

  23. Its the educational system, basic math when someone as smart as Donna cant tell the difference between pounds and stone you know you are in trouble.

  24. colonial police need to keep their hands off Afrikan conscious people who know who they are, yall might need them some day, in the what goes around, comes around way…remember ya colonial status will soon be gone, then ya will be just another Black civil servant paid by the Black population…as for Jamaica and their Black self-hatred..look how famous ya are, the word is getting around the continent.

    many people are not even thinking about the transition or maybe thinking they could retain the same old colonial way..

    Heads up, this is the new Black World Order.

  25. Leacock sees literacy challenges

    (GC) DIRECTOR of the National Transformation Initiative (NTI), Dr Allyson Leacock, says some Barbadians, even those with university degrees, are having literacy challenges affecting their ability to complete online training courses.
    Speaking at the launch of the NTI Starr Hunt With BiP, at the NTI’s offices at ‘Alcott’, Worthing, Christ Church, yesterday, she said it was one of the major areas they were looking to address.
    “We have some gaps in our current structure in education. Unfortunately, we are still guiding people to tick a box and to complete a course. What we are trying to do is strengthen people’s abilities to think critically and to have a breadth of vocabulary and functionality. I think that is what is missing.
    “Yes, there is a proportion of the population that may have had their education cut short for whatever reason and that obviously would contribute to it, but I think we have some people who have degrees and don’t know the difference between ‘their’, ‘they’ and ‘there’. These are fundamental issues that keep throwing themselves up. I think we would be negligent if we did not confront that elephant in the room to ensure that everybody has the tools,” Leacock said.
    Launched partnership
    In May, the NTI officially launched its partnership with American online course provider, Coursera, and thousands of Barbadians have since enrolled. As part of the initiative, Coursera has also provided scholarships for people to access entry-level certificates from Google to prepare for roles in information technology support, UX design, and data analytics and project management.
    Since May about 21 386 people have enrolled, completed 56 149 learning hours and taken 53 365 lessons.
    Leacock said that was why they were rolling out a pilot literacy programme to deal with some of the participants’ challenges.
    “If you can’t function, you are not going to read the instructions and you are not going to feel
    confident accessing online courses. So the NTI is at the moment offering a pilot literacy programme that we will bring to our learning platform in the coming months to make sure that even if they need support to be functionally literate, we will provide that so they can take advantage of these courses,” she added.
    Acquiring certificates
    She said that in some ways, education had been about acquiring certificates and not nurturing key skills that would help people in the workplace.
    “We love the badge that says ‘I have what you don’t’, but we’re trying to develop skills. Skills matter now more than ever so we want to develop skills competencies as opposed to ticking the box and saying I have [many] certificates, but then when you get into the workplace you are not able to function as a team player or communicate well,” Leacock said.
    NTI Starr Hunt With BiP
    is an upcoming treasure hunt during which contestants are expected to locate clues hidden at various locations across the country that can help them win weekly prizes. The clues will be accessible via Digicel’s BiP app and broadcast on Starcom Network radio stations.

    Source: Nation

  26. Court rules education ministry’s unilateral stripping of full-pay leave unlawful
    Article by Kareem Smith

    Published on
    August 18, 2021

    The nation’s largest teachers trade union on Tuesday scored a significant victory in the High Court on the contentious issue of paid term’s leave, based on a change in policy made more than five years ago.

    In a judgment handed down by Justice Shona Griffith, the court upheld the right of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) to be properly consulted about fundamental changes to terms and conditions of members’ employment.

    The court upheld the Ministry’s right to make the change but tossed out the decision because it was made unilaterally.

    The BUT is now preparing to engage Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw on the matter that initially arose under the then minister Ronald Jones in the Freundel Stuart administration.

    In 2016, teachers were stripped of their entitlement to leave with full pay after 15 years, and after that, once every five years until retirement. Without consulting teachers or their representatives, the Government determined that teachers would receive term’s leave only once after 15 years and again prior to retirement.

    Attorneys-at-law Gregory Nicholls and Jeriah Rock, who were representing nine claimants, including BUT President Pedro Shepherd, argued the Ministry’s action was unlawful, on the ground that it was a significant change to the longstanding General Orders of the Civil Service that are now set out in Section 33 of the Public Service Act.

    As they asked the High Court for judicial review of the Ministry’s decision, counsel for the educators and their representatives argued that their clients had a legitimate expectation of consultation with their employer regarding fundamental changes to the terms of their employment.

    In an extensive judgment, Justice Griffith ruled in favour of the Ministry of Education’s right to make the change without a statutory instrument, as the General Order in question was based on an administrative policy as opposed to an Act of Parliament.

    But she declared that the manner in which the changes were made was unlawful and that the Ministry had a duty to consult with teachers before making the fundamental change.

    Many educators are said to be still unclear about the details of the ‘term’s leave’ policy, and the courts declared that an identifiable criteria ought to be established for the acceptance or refusal of term’s leave.

    “It is a significant decision to the extent that it clarifies what the General Orders are in relation to the setting of terms and conditions for public officers in Barbados and it also affirms that the Government cannot unilaterally alter the terms and conditions of public officers, particularly teachers, without any consultation,” Nicholls told Barbados TODAY moments after the judgment was read.

    “[Teachers] learnt about this change of policy after the Government had implemented it, so the court is now affirming that they have the right to be consulted, they have the right to know what the policy is and they have a right to know what considerations are taken into account when granting or refusing applications made by teachers, so that the Barbados Union of Teachers has prevailed in a large extent in securing the right to be consulted on matters that are important, such as the change in terms and conditions teachers.”

    The teachers also challenged the abatement of their salaries for attending trade union meetings, but this was conceded by the Government more than a year ago and some affected teachers are said to have been reimbursed already.

    The issues all arose under the Stuart administration of 2013 to 2018 when veteran educator Jones was Minister of Education.

    When contacted later in the afternoon, Shepherd said the BUT was “somewhat satisfied” with the judgment and would be seeking the court-mandated consultation on term’s leave in short order.

    “Of course we did not win outright, because we did not get the full reinstatement of the leave after 15 years and every five, and we are quite aware now that the Ministry has to engage us in consultation on the matter, so we will write the Ministry on the matter so that we can have consultation and arrive at some decent conclusion going forward,” Shepherd told Barbados TODAY.

    “But we are aware now, more so than before, about the legality of the General Orders in relation to the Constitution and so on. So, from our end, whilst we did not get what we wanted outright, we are still comfortable with the decision and we will confer with our attorney should there be any areas that we can seek further guidance or clarity on.”

  27. Back to drawing board

    Court rules education ministry must rethink long leave policy
    A HIGH COURT yesterday ruled that the Ministry of Education must go back to the drawing board on a 2014 change in policy which sought to reduce the number of times qualified teachers could obtain a term’s vacation leave with full pay.
    Prior to 2014, teachers could apply for the term’s vacation or long leave after their first 15 years in the service, and then every five years after, with the last coming just before retirement. However, without consultation, it was claimed, this was changed to teachers only being able to get the leave after 15 years and just before they retired.
    The case, which was brought in 2017 by nine claimants represented by attorneys Gregory Nicholls and Jeriah Rock, was part of a two-part suit also involving the Barbados Union of Teachers. The first substantive issue was resolved last year when Government conceded it erred in docking the pay of teachers for attending an event organised by the union.
    While High Court judge Justice Shona Griffith stopped short of striking down the policy, she made it clear yesterday that its parameters must be reformulated. She added the ministry was duty-bound to consult with teachers or their representative bodies before making such policies that altered rights and legitimate expectations of workers.
    After the decision was handed down, Nicholls told the MIDWEEK NATION: “What I can say is that the claimants argued that there ought to have been some consultation with the affected parties before a decision that is against their interest, their rights or their expectations is made by the Government. The court accepted this argument, and one might be able to extrapolate and apply that within a broader context that there is a duty to consult wherever people’s rights, duties and expectations are affected.”
    He added: “The court was very clear to point out that within the context of what teachers do, the importance of the role that they play, that they are a special class within the Public Service and there was a duty to consult them.”
    The labour rights specialist said the decision was important in terms of the Public Service.
    “The arguments that we presented were from a very well-known Privy Council case, which has been cited in many Caribbean courts. So, the duty to consult is not altogether novel, but this may be the first case where the court is affirming that right within the context of the Public Service. If the Government and a public authority are making a decision that is going to affect the rights, interests and legitimate expectations of an identifiable class of people, then the appropriate thing to do in the effort of what the court calls good administration is to consult the likely affected parties,” he explained.
    “As we understand it, the policy as it exists right now must be reformulated and there must be consultation with respect to that policy. So the Government must consult with the union on a question of a term’s vacation leave. They must also be consulted on how the policy is administered and what considerations the ministry will have to apply in determining whether to grant or refuse leave for teachers.
    “One has to bear in mind that the court does not determine what the policy of a country is, but rather whether its application is unlawful.”

    Source: Nation

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